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    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Reuter site - Verizon gets picket injunctions in 3 states, seeks more

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    Verizon gets picket injunctions in 3 states, seeks more

    Thu, Aug 11 21:17 PM EDT

    * Obtains New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania injunctions

    * Seeks New Jersey, Mass. injunctions

    * Legal moves may foretell long strike-lawyer

    NEW YORK, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications <VZ.N>
    won court injunctions in three states to prevent strikers from
    blocking facilities and it was seeking similar legal protection
    in two more states on the fifth day of a strike involving
    almost half the workers in its wireline business.

    Two unions representing 45,000 workers had called a strike
    Sunday after a labor contract expired and several weeks of
    talks for a new contract failed.

    By Thursday afternoon Verizon said it had been granted
    injunctions in New York and Delaware as well as Pennsylvania
    after it accused picketers of illegally blocking garages and
    work entrances. It also went to court on Thursday to seek
    injunctions for Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    The injunctions limit the number of people who can picket
    at each location and how close they can stand to building
    entrances to reduce the chances of them blocking managers from
    going into the buildings to cover for the strikers.

    While both sides continue to hold talks, the strike turned
    into a nasty public fight almost immediately after it started.

    Verizon complained about network sabotage and strikers
    blocking workers while the unions accused Verizon managers of
    injuring picketers with their work vehicles on day two.

    But the company's move to secure injunctions so soon into
    the strike could mean it is expecting the strike to drag on for
    some time, according to one lawyer who has helped companies
    with labor negotiations in the past.

    "If they thought it was going to be over soon (or) if it
    wasn't putting economic pressure on them, why go for the
    injunction?" said John Hancock a Detroit-based lawyer for
    Butzel Long. "I think they're preparing for the long term and
    it may be having some impact on them."

    The Communications Workers of America, which represents
    about 35,000 of the strikers, said the injunctions would not
    make much difference to their ability to picket effectively.

    "We will continue to be able to conduct a militant strike,"
    said CWA spokesman Robert Master.

    Meanwhile, at least one rival Towerstream Corp <TWER.O>, a
    small wireless broadband provider, is hoping to take advantage
    of Verizon's woes. It put out a statement on Thursday offering
    to waive certain fees for Verizon business customers looking to
    switch to its service to avoid installation delays.
    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Bernard Orr)

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